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Born Free

January 25, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Born Free
Ronald Roy — January 25, 2012

In the beginning, Adam and Eve were created democrats. They were each endowed with the power to live in any way they deemed consistent with their separate personal needs.

Although in that sense they were sui generis, (unique and distinct) from each other, they discovered that planning and doing things together produced the synergy necessary to maximize and accelerate their joint welfare in the bountiful yet perilous wilderness around them.

I have no idea how long Adam and Eve lived together, but their family might have expanded to countless scores and generations that comprised the first community of human beings in earth.

And as that family grew, it must have become more unwieldy, what with its members each endowed with a will, clashing in constant disagreement over what would be best for them collectively (a matrix of law) and individually (a bill of rights).

In the cacophony of confusion, the question of leadership arose. It is reasonable to assume that Adam, or in his absence, the eldest male descendant, autocratically proclaimed himself their “president”. But of course he may have been “elected” by the majority.

I do not really know how it went, but what is certain is that they needed someone or a group to manage community affairs.

That way, there would be sundry benefits for all, like less acrimonious squabbles, fair penalties for wrongdoings, timely herbal care for the sick, an educational system, a police force— in sum: all those primitive components that would constitute any of a number of governments in today’s modern world.

Another thing certain is that, absent an authoritarian ruler, there must have been some kind of a social covenant stipulating that those chosen to lead would do so in the service of the community, not of themselves, and in the light of transparency, not behind the wall of opaqueness.

Such a social contract must have been the lynchpin for a representative form of governance: of the community, by the community, and for the community.

No, the Americans did not invent democracy. But in Abraham Lincoln’s mystifyingly unschooled wisdom, he correctly discerned its moorings in the Alpha of Creation, in the very essentiality of man’s human nature. Lincoln must have had the intuition to view the Creator as the only dispenser of the power of individual and communal self-determination.

The foregoing hypothesis is my answer to Bishop Manolo Dizon of New Manila, Quezon City who wanted to know if it was the Americans who invented democracy, considering that Lincoln once defined it as “a government of the people, by the people, (and) for the people.”

What I find disturbingly paradoxical, however, is not Lincoln’s phrase “a government of the people, by the people, (and) for the people”—idealistically expressive as it is of a people’s God-given omnipotence for self-determination—can at times uncover human frailties that are anathema to their well being.

Some of those frailties have already reared their ugly heads in the ongoing impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona, all of which are perceptible in the preferment of self-interest over and above the common welfare.

Impeachment Presiding Officer (IPO) Juan Ponce Enrile has enjoined members of his court to “look at the evidence and nothing else,” if they are to reach a just verdict in the matter of one: Mr. Corona’s eviction from office and (perpetual) disqualification from holding public office (with forfeiture of all retirement benefits), and two: his automatic submission, if convicted, to criminal prosecution, trial and punishment in accordance with law (Art. XI, Sec. 3, 1987 Philippine Constitution).

From where I sit, IPO Enrile has so far shown the sterling stuff of fortitude, independent-mindedness and intellect – the very justice-dispensing apparatus that is needed to convince the nation and the world that democracy is alive and kicking here in these parts.

But can he hack it all on his own? If I know my kumpadre, yes, he can. Can the old man in his mid-eighties hang in there without blinking throughout the excruciating months ahead? Yes, he can.

IPO Enrile is totally aware that his impeachment performance is the final act he needs to forever exonerate himself from lingering perceptions of his complicit role in the Marcos dictatorship.

But it is altogether a different matter as to all the other participants in the impeachment undertaking. My crystal ball is beginning to fog up with a steam of political ambitions and prejudices coming from not a few senator-judges, to whose staffs I happen to enjoy occasional discreet access.

It can only be fervently hoped that all concerned—whether participants or not in Chief Justice Corona’s impeachment trial, the media and the man in the street included—be blessed with intuitive knowledge of the genesis of democracy.

We all have to know that one: synergy among individuals is a sine qua non for their collective advancement, two: personal sacrifice must be offered for the betterment of the whole, and three: we will perish as a nation, if we fail to do what we need to do because, as descendants of the democratic Adam and Eve, we sadly fail to realize that we are all: born free.

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